The Hermann's tortoise is a small Central European species that makes a good active and interactive pet for a beginner herpetologist. However, they live a long time (about 35 years), making keeping one a long-term commitment. They require more space than other reptile pets -- a pen about 6 feet by 4 feet is adequate; you must make it safe from predators and build it so that the tortoise cannot dig out or climb out. You can keep hatchlings in a vivarium, but adult Hermann's tortoises need both indoor and outdoor areas to stay in peak condition.
- Skill level:
Give a Hermann's tortoise space to roam, with both sunny and shady areas.
Include a house or a covered space where it can hide.
Provide specific temperature ranges -- air temperatures of 21.1 to 32.2 degrees Celsius in the daytime and 60 to 65 at night -- with a basking spot that reaches 90 to 95 degrees (so they can get warm enough to digest their food) and a constant relative humidity of 30 to 50 per cent.
Remember that these tortoises come from a dry, Mediterranean-type climate and will not do well on damp or soggy surfaces.
Offer fresh wild greens in the form of edible weeds, such as dandelions, and grass. Tortoises are vegetarians; they need little fat or protein in their diet.
Give only food that is pesticide-free.
Buy romaine lettuce, endive and kale from the grocery store if wild food is not available. Offer shredded carrot and tiny bits of cabbage, broccoli and spinach.
Leave fruit off the menu, since it is hard for them to digest.
Offer commercial tortoise food, and provide extra calcium in the form of a cuttlebone.
Make fresh, clean water available at all times, but don't be surprised if the tortoise drinks from puddles after a rain.
Give your Hartmann's tortoise the opportunity to soak in shallow water for a few minutes a couple of times a week -- especially in dry weather -- if they do not have a pool available all the time.
Change the water daily and clean the pool (if available) regularly, removing debris and algae.
House one male and two or three females together. If there is only one female, he may bully her. Tortoises are naturally solitary, except in breeding season, and don't really need company.
House males separate from each other, as they can become aggressive and may fight.
Identify males and females by comparing their undersides -- males have a wider rear end to the lower shell and a much longer tail.
Keep tortoises separated by species, or they might pick up parasites or diseases for which they don't have immunity.
Keep Hermann's tortoises of radically different sizes separated, as larger ones can injure larger ones.
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